Why is Innovation so hard? Surely as so many CEO surveys note its a top priority, key driver of performance etc. do so many companies struggle to take it forwards. The more time I spend with companies it really comes down to The Operational Model, how it is setup and then matures over time.
Most companies start with an Innovation Team and a few avid supporters spread across an organisation. If they are lucky The Vision and Strategy are set out and how to deliver it is clear. More often than not its unclear or missing all together.
So the journey needs to take a step back and firstly define The Vision and in turn The Strategy before finally building out The Operational Model on how that can be achieved and operationalised. Of course there is a lot more to it but frankly without starting at the top to define our vision and strategy, we risk jumping straight into execution to learn and fail fast on the way forwards without any clear understanding of our actual intent about how innovation aligns to the business. It might look and feel like progress but more often than not it teaches what not to do vs. what is needed.
What I have observed in companies that do this is they spend a lot of the time and energies in experimentation and learning about innovation. These are key components of any programme but to start here in the hope of defining either or both their vision and strategy in my experience looses valuable time and ultimately leads to either a reset or an Innovation Programmes cancelation due to a lack of tangible business aligned results. Knowing what you want to do, how that could be achieved, what success looks like (and is measured of course) can make all the difference. In addition, balancing investment, ambition, risk and being innovative in how you achieve this all need to be considered and designed well. Less fail fast, more measure twice cut once.